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    Say What?: Wait, I Thought This Magazine Had The Word “Health” In the Title…

    scoopsMany thanks to Small Bites reader Corey Clark who saw this article on the Men’s Health website and notified me of a few bits of information that didn’t quite add up.

    In his e-mail Corey asked me to read the article and claimed that “it seems okay until tip number 8, but then it gets ridiculous.”

    Does it ever!

    The article — titled “10 Surprising Hydrators” — is based on the recommendations of a Registered Dietitian and promises to unveil ten “alternative ways to hydrate… with fluid-filled foods.”

    In fact, the article goes on to claim that if you consume these foods, “you could, theoretically, never drink a drop of plain ol’ water again.”


    The piece starts out with the standards: skim milk, watermelon, salad greens.

    Then it goes downhill drives off a cliff before exploding into a fireball of nonsense.

    I am still trying to wrap my head around the last three suggestions:

    “#8 (Soda): Yep, you read that right.  [Registered Dietitian Nancy] Clark says that caffeine, sugar, and water combo can make [for] a great post-exercise slug if it’s your beverage of choice.  It doesn’t make a difference if you crack open a diet or a regular.  But add some salty pretzels or a brat to help your body  hold on to the fluid.”

    If I were a cartoon character, you would see my eyes bulge out, my entire face turn red, and then steam come out of both my ears.

    Soda and a bratwurst following a workout?  Did the writers from The Onion hack the Men’s Health website?

    If the intent is to get readers to consume caffeine, sugar, and water after a workout, how about suggesting something that doesn’t leach calcium from bones.  Perhaps an iced unsweetened latte?

    “#9 (Ice Cream): Stop and get yourself a post-workout cup of Phish Food on your way home from the gym.  Ideally, you’ll choose the light version, but in a moment of weakness, you’ll still be hydrating with that frozen fluid.  We’ll take Ben & Jerry’s over a bottle of Dasani any day.”

    You know that feeling you get when you see Kate and Jon (of “Plus 8” fame) on every magazine cover and television show?  That feeling of  “what sort of messed up parallel universe do I live in?”  That’s pretty much the feeling I got after I read that paragraph.

    By the way, that cup of Phish Food adds up to:

    • 560 calories
    • 90% of a day’s worth of saturated fat
    • 9 teaspoons of added sugar

    “# 10 (Beer): Ok, sort of.  The general consensus among trusted nutritionists is that beer is a dehydrator, not a hydrator.  However, Clark says that a Beer Shandy — one part lager to one part lemonade or Sprite — is OK.”

    Let me get this straight.  Beer is a dehydrator, so therefore it is okay to drink after a workout as long as it is mixed with another fluid?

    I am still in shock that a health magazine would encourage readers to consume soda and ice cream after engaging in physical activity.

    That’s akin to me suggesting chocolate ice cream with almonds as a way to get calcium and vitamin E, or a double cheeseburger as a good source of protein.

    I would like to think this is an example of a sloppy reporter completely taking a professional’s advice out of context.



    1. Une femme libre said on July 27th, 2009

      I think they were joking and should not be taken seriously.

    2. Brandon said on July 27th, 2009

      #8. You’ve said yourself in earlier posts that the effect of calcium leeching from soda is only significant if the person is already not getting enough calcium in their diet. Also, you’ve said yourself, that the weightlifter type who is intent on building [a lot] of muscle [who is also the target demographic] needs a) carbs + protein 30 min after a workout, and b) extra Calories. Soda + Bratwurst satisfies both of those.

      #9. Ice cream. Again, that can satisfy both a) and b) from above. The only issue I would think of is the saturated fat thing.

      #10 does sound ridiculous. It would sound better if it was red wine. Not for the purposes of hydration, but for the other benefits of red wine/moderate alcohol consumption. But I guess the target demographic would rather have a beer.

      I’ll agree that its weird that a Registered Dietitian is supporting those kinds of foods. Yes, there are much better foods than bratwurst and soda. But I don’t like your arguments. They are very contradictory.

    3. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009

      Except they weren’t joking. The article was not intended in a “tongue in cheek” fashion, nor was it written as a humorous piece.

    4. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009


      I don’t see what is so contradictory about my statements.

      1) Yes, the effect of calcium leaching is only significant if a person’s diet is low in calcium. Unfortunately, the majority of adults in the US do not meet their daily calcium needs. That is why I take issue with the push for soda from a dietitian. Most people need to increase calcium intake, not drink more soda.

      And while a soda and bratwurst meets the calories/carbs/protein demand, there are other nutrients to consider. Nutrition is a science, but also, in my opinion, an artform. Creating an eating plan is more than just meeting caloric needs. Would you take me seriously if you wanted to lose weight and I gave you a 1,600 calorie eating plan that consisted of junk food?

      There are much healthier ways to get calories/carbs/protein than soda and hot dogs. I doubt Men’s Health would ever, for example, suggest to a reader that they get supersize fries and a Big Mac after a workout to get “as many calories as possible.”

      2) Keep in mind, Brandon, that the goal of this article was not muscle-building, it was hydration. Choosing ice cream for hydration is ludicrous, especially when another item on that list is popsicles (which makes more sense, as they contain a lot more water). Besides, pretty much all foods contain water, so why these ten? And why soda over an apple? Why not sorbet instead of ice cream, if a “frozen treat” was necessary?

      3) Red wine is not hydrating. No alcoholic beverage is. It makes no sense to recommend alcohol after a workout.

    5. Kristin said on July 27th, 2009

      No offense to anyone, but I think Brandon is missing the point. It’s irresponsible for an RD to give out this sort of advice while making the assumption that the average reader won’t skim the article and go “I can have a brat and a coke every day after my 30 minute workout? Sweet!” And even though those are obviously not healthy choices for post-workout refueling, I could see hardcore professional athletes getting away with some of them on occasion (Have you read the article about what Michael Phelps eats???). But the average person doesn’t work out for 8 hours a day, six days a week. And regardless, an RD should be advising people based on what would be a best case scenario. Not based on what they can get away with. She could have easily recommended a healthier combination of claories, carbs and protein. But she didn’t—maybe for the shock factor.

      Andy—if it makes you feel any better, I read these types of magazines a lot (Shape, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, etc.) and it’s thanks to you and this website that I realize how much of it is B.S. and take everything with a grain of salt (no pun intended). So THANK YOU.

    6. Brandon said on July 27th, 2009

      Again, I wasn’t disagreeing with your general dislike for the article. I think it’s ludicrous that someone is almost saying “you dont have to drink water”. I think that people should learn to enjoy water (and not ‘have’ to drink soda/flavored beverages).

      Like I said, and like you said, yes there are better alternatives than 8-10. 1-7 is pretty good, and much much better than 8-10.

      Ultimately its like you said though. The article if about hydration. “Surprising” hydrators. Ice cream is a “surprising” hydrator because I would never go to it for hydration. Therefore it makes the list.

      What I didn’t like is the vibe that I got from your article. “Soda is the devils spawn” sort of thing. Dietitians dont believe in “bad” foods!

    7. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009


      You’re creating a straw-man argument. I never described soda as “the devil’s spawn.” I just find it absurb that a dietitian would recommend it.

      FYI: Ice cream is roughly 55% water. A banana, for exampe, is 75% water. Most people wouldn’t think of a banana as hydrating, so why didn’t that make the list? It’s completely arbitrary and silly.

    8. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009


      You absolutely hit it on the head. This is about the average reader thinking a hot dog and a large Coke from 7-11 are “healthy” because they’re hydrating. And I completely agree that an RD should advise on how to “improve” rather than “how to scrape by with the bare minimum.”

      That would be like a dentist telling you it’s “fine”, though not ideal, to brush your teeth just once a day!

      PS: I am glad to hear this blog has helped you read those magazines with a more critical eye.

    9. Brandon said on July 27th, 2009

      I think you are reading too much into it.


      She is never really ‘recommending’ it.

      ICE CREAM:

      I think you are being too critical on this one. That’s what I am getting at. Especially since the first 7 ‘hydrators’ are perfectly fine.

      P.S. If the average person wanted to eat ice cream post workout, they probably wouldn’t try to justify it by saying “oh it’s ok because it’s hydrating” but would probably say “it’s ok I just worked out”.

    10. Brandon said on July 27th, 2009

      “It’s irresponsible for an RD to give out this sort of advice while making the assumption that the average reader won’t skim the article and go ‘I can have a brat and a coke every day after my 30 minute workout? Sweet!'”

      In my opinion, I’d imagine the average reader of Men’s Health to be somewhat more health conscious than the ‘average person’, and would NOT jump to that conclusion.

      Yes, you are right, Kristin, an RD should be giving out best case scenario. But then the RD has to sit down with his/her client and come up with goals that are actually obtainable. Because, for whatever reason, not everyone can always go from what they are doing now to going to the ‘best case’ scenario.

    11. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009


      The article starts off by saying these are alternatives to water, thereby recommending them.

      The reason why I am being critical is because it seems like the last three recommendations were tacked on to make the article gimmicky.

      The author of the article also needs to edit the ice cream entry — “one serving” would be a half cup, not 1 cup.

    12. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009

      The problem is that a a lot of “average people” turn to magazines like Men’s Health to become informed about nutrition. It isn’t wise to assume that the average Men’s Health reader is nutrition-savvy.

      I agree that part of an RDs job is to work with a client to come up with obtainable goals. However, I don’t think asking someone to drink water, skim milk, or eat a piece of fruit after a workout to hydrate is unobtainable.

    13. Brandon said on July 27th, 2009

      One last thing.

      Upon reading the article, I used common sense and guessed that 1 was her opinion of the best choice, 2 was her 2nd best choice, 3 was her 3rd, and so on. Unfortunately she didn’t list it as this, and I don’t think we’d be having this discussion if she did.

      Yes I do believe 8-10 were added for ‘shock value’. Yes the whole list could have consisted of fruits and vegetables (it wouldn’t make for an interesting article).

      Like I said before, or at least almost said, I think the article in itself is gimmicky. Why is someone telling me that I don’t need to drink water? So I wasn’t that surprised to see 8-10. I never really disagreed with anything you said, it’s just that your review (in my opinion) was focusing so much on the negative and not very much on the positive (like #1 skim milk, #3 watermelon) that it kind of struck a nerve.

      I perceived it as you trying to be a ‘food cop’. I know you don’t have those intentions, or at least I don’t think you don’t, but that is how it came across (to me).

    14. Brandon said on July 27th, 2009

      Uhh typo.

      Last sentence should read “…or at least I don’t think you do…” or “…or at least I think you don’t…” Pick whichever is more grammatically correct.

    15. Andy Bellatti said on July 27th, 2009

      I always welcome thoughtful discussion, Brandon, so I appreciate you leaving these comments.

      To be fair, I do mention that the article is perfectly fine for the first 7 items, only to then spin out of control. I think this article struck a particular nerve with me because it is coming from what is supposed to be a respectable publication AND contains recommendation by an RD. If this list was just on some random website and attributed to someone with another credential, I don’t think I would have bothered to blog about it.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

    16. Ross Kennedy said on April 4th, 2010

      This appears to be an irresponsible article. I also would like to know how Nancy Clark feels about her words being inappropriately used.

    17. Milton Stokes said on April 5th, 2010

      Haven’t read all the reader comments, but I know that sports RDs talk about carb replacements post-workout (depending on sport, intensity, etc.). Sugar is part of that. Perhaps that’s why she mentioned soda? Also, Andy, you know how journalists work. Boring doesn’t sell. Just like your own blog: a good debate grabs attention.

    18. Andy Bellatti said on April 5th, 2010


      I understand the carb-replacement angle, but, in my mind, there is a line that separates sane advice from ridiculousness. I consider this post-workout advice to be much like me recommending soda, cookies, and Fruity Pebbles to a client as a way to get some of their carbohydrates for the whole day.

      If a client asked you for post-workout nutrition advice, would soda be one of three, five, or even ten options you would throw out?

      Also, I understand that boring doesn’t sell. As you pointed out, though, I “sell” my blog with a good debate or an interesting topic, not “waaaaayy out there” nutrition advice in the hopes of stirring up controversy. As someone who majored in journalism as an undergraduate, I am not a fan of sloppy and sensationalist journalists hiding behind the “but we need to sell magazines!!” excuse.

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